Archive | 6:21 pm

You say Dorito, I say Derecho.

1 Jul

Alan found me standing in front of the thermostat at 3am Saturday, using my iPhone as a flashlight.

“I don’t understand,” I mumbled. “Why does it say 70, when it’s so hot in here?”

Alan flipped on the hall light so we could get a better look at it. But still we stood in the dark.

“Power’s out,” he said.

And then I remembered waking up only hours before to terrifying booms and bright lights. Actually, it’s somewhat surprising I’d even fallen back to sleep.

“The storm,” I started telling Alan, who gave me a blank stare.

“It rained?” he asked.

“You have no idea.”

The next morning I headed out on my bike to scout the neighborhood. In a half-mile alone, I saw downed power lines and three large trees on their sides. And lining every path were limbs. The street looked like a wood chipper had just driven down it, mulching everything in sight.

I rode back home, where Alan was sitting next to a radio, listening to weather and news.

“I’m not sure what happened,” I told him, “But it looks like a tornado or hurricane rolled through while we were sleeping.”

Since temperatures were forecast to top 100 again, we loaded up in Alan’s car and decided to try our luck at my place in the city. Say what you will about the efficiency of DC government, but I’ll rejoice that someone had the foresight to bury our power lines, because my building was humming along in air-conditioned goodness.

Considering some 3 million people lost power, I felt pretty lucky.

The drive in, however, had done nothing to inspire confidence in what we would find. Trees were down everywhere, and we saw more than one car buckled under the weight of a trunk. “I feel like this storm deserves a name,” Alan commented.

Later, courtesy of The Weather Channel, we would discover it had a name: Derecho. Well, technically it’s not a name like “Katrina,” but it’s a Spanish word that describes the condition that occurred Friday night – kind of like El Nino. Technically, a derecho is a sustained and powerful windstorm that spans at least 240 miles and exceeds 58 mph.

Sounds like a lateral tornado, if you ask me.

My favorite thing about the word (aside from the fact that Alan looks like he wants to smack me because I insist on pronouncing it  with a rolling “R” like I speak Spanish fluently) is that people stopped calling it “a derecho” and started simply calling it “Derecho.” As if it were the storm’s name.

On Facebook, my news feed morphed into two camps (those WITH power and those WITHOUT) faster than Twilight had created Team Edward and Team Jacob.

It was like a personality test. People with electricity either a) Invited their friends over, b) Gave thanks to a higher power, or c) Taunted people who were baking in the heat. People without electricity a) Complained about the heat and/or their power company, b) Checked in from mundane places (ie. the grocery store) excited to be in air conditioning, or c) Meticulously listed the contents of their refrigerators and how much longer until all was RUINED.

Slowly, as people began regaining power, my news feed sounded like Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah, indeed!

Other people found their solace elsewhere. “Mr. H went out and bought us a generator this morning,” my friend Sara posted about her husband. “The first thing we hooked up? The beer fridge.”

Another friend wrote, “Actually looking forward to Monday: at least work is air-conditioned and the fridge works.”

Gotta love Facebook! And for more than one reason…

I mean, it’s kind of like a dividing rod. Based on what I’ve been seeing, I think it’s safe to make a prediction. This time next year: there will be a miniature baby boom. Housewives devouring the smutty best-seller “Fifty Shades of Grey” + three million people without power? Doesn’t require much math.

The only question in my mind: how many babies will be named Derecho?